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Who Won the War on Poverty?

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By Jazelle Hunt
NNPA Washington Correspondent


WASHINGTON (NNPA) – President Ronald Reagan quipped: “In the 60s we waged a war on poverty, and poverty won.”

Did it?

This month, 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act, effectively kicking off the War on Poverty, is a good time to answer that question.

Today, the Census Bureau reports that 49.7 million Americans are living in poverty. That’s 15 percent of the nation, a poverty rate that has persisted since President Clinton left office. The child poverty rate, which had also plateaued around 18 percent before the Great Recession, has now crept up to 23 percent. The number of people in deep poverty – those who’d have to make twice their current earnings to meet the federal threshold of poverty – has hovered around 5 percent since 1973. Today, that figure doubles for children.

For Black Americans, the poverty rate is 25.8 percent. A staggering 40 percent of Black children live in poverty as of 2012, the most recent Census Bureau data.

But it’s also true that poverty has dropped from 26 percent to 16 percent since 1967, if measured with the inclusion of income from government assistance. If the Census Bureau measured poverty without that inclusion, today’s poverty rate would be closer to 30 percent. During the Great Recession alone, the poverty rate would have jumped three percentage points in two years (24 to 27 percent).

In other words, safety net programs such as Social Security, the Earned Income Tax Credit, housing vouchers, and so on have stabilized the poverty rate, even during the Recession.

Whether the war is being won or not, it’s clear that the battle is still underway. And just as poverty is still thriving, so too is the debate on how to eradicate it.

Former vice-presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is taking aim at the topic with the release of “Expanding Opportunity in America,” a discussion draft from the House Budget Committee, which he chairs. The proposal lays out a plan to fund assistance programs “more wisely” by consolidating the most successful ones – Head Start, food stamps (SNAP), housing assistance vouchers, and others – into a “Grant Opportunity” program.

Under this program, states would receive the same amount of federal funding for safety net programs, but states would be allowed to allocate those funds among the programs as they see fit.

To receive the Opportunity Grant, states must create a plan that moves people from poverty to independence; requires all able-bodied recipients to work or “engage in work-related activities” in exchange for benefits; encourages innovation among services providers; establishes a third-party evaluation method.

Ryan would like to pilot the Opportunity Grant program in a few to-be-determined states on a voluntary basis.

“The goal is to make it easier for low-income families to get the assistance they need and to find work,” the proposal reads. “Right now, families must visit a variety of offices and providers to get aid. Under this proposal, they will work with a single provider for all their needs.”

The proposal also seeks to strengthen Earned Income Tax Credit benefits and other work incentives; reform education provisions such as Pell grants and curricula models; reform the criminal justice system, including loosening mandatory minimum guidelines; and require Congress to review regulations that may disadvantage low-income Americans.

Not everyone is impressed.

“It’s filled with little gems. It proposes to take up to 11 programs and put them into this block grant. The Congressman says we would hold the money the same. But you should note that Congressman Ryan hasn’t taken back his budget,” says Peter Edelman, professor at Georgetown Law Center and faculty co-director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy.

“For four years in a row he has proposed cutting $5 trillion over 10 years, and 69 percent of that is from programs that help low-wage, low-income people.”

Poverty is a complex problem. This complexity is a major reason it persists, and is also why some advocate a crafted, multilayered approach.

For example, underemployment and unemployment are one aspect of the problem. Stagnant wages are another. At the same time, housing, childcare, and higher education costs continue to rise. There is also the link between race and poverty.

A chief criticism of this multilayered approach is that there are already too many costly state and federal agencies and programs, with questionable effectiveness. A recently released report from the House Budget Committee, titled, “The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later” describes the current safety net system as “duplicative and complex.”

“There are at least 92 federal programs designed to help lower-income Americans. Congress has taken a haphazard approach to this problem; it has expanded programs and created new ones with little regard to how these changes fit into the larger effort,” the report reads. “Rather than provide a roadmap out of poverty, Washington has created a complex web of programs that are often difficult to navigate.”

But there are other ways to resolve poverty without cutting programs or spending more money. Last week, Edelman and Cook served on a panel sponsored by the American Bar Association to explore the question: What is the role of government, advocates, and more specifically, the role of lawyers, law schools, and the organized bar in addressing poverty? Edelman, Cook, and the other panelists agreed that the best path toward alleviating poverty is through both government action, and community partnerships/strategies.

“One has to continue to put pressure on the powers that be to construct and envision new innovative policies that really work at the ground level,” Cook explained. “But also we’ve got to work at the grassroots level. When both of those emphases meet you have potential for a powerful, and potentially transformative situation.”

In the meantime, the War on Poverty continues unabated.

Black Women-Owned Businesses Up by 258 Percent

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By Jazelle Hunt
NNPA Washington Correspondent


WASHINGTON (NNPA) –From the rubble of the Great Recession, women business owners are emerging victorious with record growth and economic impact. Even so,  women entrepreneurs still face barriers to success.

Today, 30 percent of all American businesses have a woman at the helm. African American women in particular are a driving force, establishing their enterprises at six times the national average, according to a 2013 American Express OPEN report. Between 1997 and 2013, African American women-owned businesses grew by 258 percent and made $226.8 billion in revenue.  They employ 1.4 million people, which is more than the combined population of Atlanta, St. Louis and Miami.

Another study from the Global Initiative for Women’s Entrepreneurial Research found that by 2009, women-owned businesses supplied 23 million jobs – or 16 percent of all jobs available at the time – with an economic impact of $3 trillion. In terms of job growth, women owned businesses rank second only to publicly traded companies.

But available data suggests there is much more unearthed potential.

“While women-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment of businesses, and many succeed, women must overcome barriers that their male competitors do not face,” a report from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship state. The committee held a hearing recently at which it released the report and discuss its findings. “In the area of capital, studies find that women do not get sufficient access to loans and venture capital.”

Some of turned rampant unemployment into an opportunity.

In 2002, Karen Lawrence was laid off in the post-9/11 recession. Tired of fighting to get back into the corporate world, she channeled her event management skills into a startup. Using her savings and severance package, she launched It’s My Affair, LLC.

“It wasn’t enough. But I started small,” Lawrence says. “Getting people to take you seriously as a business owner, especially when you’re small, is the hardest part.”

Despite excelling with the opportunities given, women entrepreneurs still face obstacles echoing from decades of codified sexism. Chief among these obstacles is access to capital. For example, a study from the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation found that women receive 80 percent less capital than men for first-year financing.

The Senate committee report also points out that women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) represent 30 percent of all small businesses, but only 17 percent of U.S. Small Business Administration loans went to women entrepreneurs. And this may be their best opportunity to access funds; the SBA says women are three to five times more likely to be approved for an SBA loan than for a conventional loan.

Government contracts offer another example of WOSBs’ restricted access to lucrative opportunities.

Federal contracting opportunities amount to approximately $500 billion worth of business. Sometimes, small businesses are able to get a shot at this money by providing services to government agencies through sole source authority. This authority lets federal entities bypass the bidding or application process and award contracts that pay up to $6.5 million for manufacturing, or $4 million for other industries, to one business. Currently, 15 percent of small business awards are granted to disadvantaged businesses using this authority.

The WOSB Procurement Program was established in 2000 to help federal agencies funnel contracts to WOSBs/economically-disadvantaged WOSBs. Of seven similar procurement programs for disadvantaged businesses, the WOSB Procurement Program is the only one that does not have sole source authority. Even if they have the capacity to handle these big-money contracts alone, WOSBs can only subcontract on them, thus splitting the earnings with other firms.

“It’s very hard to compete when you have to compete with large corporations and firms that have already done business with the government. I don’t think they look at small business owners,” Lawrence says of her experience with federal contracting.

The goal of the WOSB Procurement Program was to have 5 percent of all federal contract dollars awarded to WOSBs. The federal government has never hit this goal. It came closest in 2012, thanks to a boost from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which awarded 14.65 percent of its contracts to women owned businesses.

Even without sole source authority, the process of working with the federal government is a complex one, Lawrence says.

“There are so many rules and regulations they have to abide by, it creates a barrier for women and some minorities,” she said. After many attempts, she finally landed her first federal contract last year. “It was a learning curve, even with [free, SBA- sponsored] classes. If you’re not awarded a contract, follow up and find out why…. that helped me correct what I was doing.”

Despite the obstacles, women entrepreneurship will likely continue to grow, especially if proposed interventions come to pass. For starters, an amendment to grant sole source authority to the WOSB Procurement Program is neatly tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, which has been passed in the House and is moving its way through the Senate.

The Senate committee also finds that the SBA Microloan and Intermediary Lending Programs are “well-suited to target women owned borrowers,” though they need to be modernized through Congressional action.

On the unconventional side, the explosion of crowdfunding – using social networks and websites to seek donations to raise capital for projects – has been particularly useful for women. Because it is such a new phenomenon, the law is still catching up. Most recently, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012 established some regulations.

The Committee report explains, “When fully implemented, the JOBS Act through crowdfunding has the potential to greatly expand the investor base and allow women-owned companies to appeal to a wider investor audience, such as other women investors.”

Data suggests that the Millennial generation, defined as those born between the mid 1980s and early 2000s, is particularly attuned to entrepreneurship. A Kaufman Foundation study found that 54 percent of young people are interested in starting a business or have done so already, and that the rate is “notably higher—10 to 11 percent” for young adults of color.

Lawrence advises aspiring entrepreneurs to become experts on the market they’re entering, make connections, and take advantage of resources such as a local SBA office, Women’s Business Center, or nonprofit/state-sponsored classes. She says learning how to properly present your business for federal contracts is a skill all its own.

“It takes a lot of research to figure out what’s available to you. The SBA has done a good job in the past with helping find out what’s available,” she says, adding that repeated engagement with these resources yields best results. “The information is out there, but you have to find it.”

Jawanza Kunjufu: From Boys to Girls

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By Jazelle Hunt
NNPA Washington Correspondent


WASHINGTON (NNPA) – For the past 40 years, Jawanza Kunjufu has dedicated his life to uplifting African Americans through education and empowerment. His work as an educational consultant and author of 33 books has centered on the plight and triumphs of African American boys and men – until now.

His latest book, Educating Black Girls, marks a dramatic shift.

“Numerous people have asked me to write a book on Black females, but I didn’t feel that was my place – it wasn’t my expertise,” Kunjufu said.

After a woman at an event for educators in Oakland, California challenged him and everyone present to pay attention to Black girls, Kunjufu decided to look into it. “I did a literature review and I did not like what I saw. These figures are unacceptable…if these things were happening to White girls, it would be a major national crisis.”

Black girls are being suspended from school at rates second only to Black boys –  except in Wisconsin, where Black girls are suspended more than anyone else, according to a  U.S. Department of Education civil rights study. The high school drop out rate among Black girls is 40 percent.

“For too long, the plight of Black females has been treated as a stepchild to the plight of Black males and the agenda of White feminists,” the book’s introduction reads, adding that Black girls could benefit from an initiative such as President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper. “Young women of color have special challenges and needs, independent of their brothers that would greatly benefit from such national attention and coordination of federal resources.”

The book offers 10 chapters on trends in education, STEM inclusivity, segregation in athletic programs, history curricula and Black women, and more.

Kunjufu asserts that many teachers, especially White female teachers, have warped views of the Black girls in their care. He points to recent examples such as Salecia Johnson, Jmyha Rickman, and Ja’eisha Scott, who were all handcuffed and charged with crimes after throwing tantrums at school. The eldest was eight at the time of her incident.

“Many teachers are afraid of our children. It’s very difficult to be an effective teacher when fear is involved,” Kunjufu explained. “They believe Black girls have too much attitude, are too sassy, too bossy. They’re uncomfortable with Black females being that assertive.”

In the third chapter of the book, “Black Females Speak,” it is clear that Black girls are picking up on these signals. Quotes from girls around the country include: “In this school you can get suspended over your attitude;” “Why don’t teachers like me?” “Some teachers act like they are afraid of us;” and “Most teachers don’t care about me and won’t be back next year.”

The book also details the areas of education in which Black girls are routinely overlooked—STEM and sports. The dearth of women, particularly women of color, in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields is no secret. But the lack of representation and segregation in student sports gets less attention.

In the athletics chapter, Kunjufu finds that 60 percent of Black high school girls do not participate in any sport. He also asserts that White feminists—who hail Title IX legislation that allowed women equal access to college offerings, especially sports—are oddly silent about the lack of Black girls outside of basketball and track.

“We could increase the number of Black females in college if we exposed them to lacrosse, swimming, soccer, softball, volleyball, golf, tennis, ice skating, gymnastics, and the longer track events,” Kunjufu writes. “If they distinguish themselves in sports, an athletic scholarship could be their ticket to college.”

Educating Black Girls seeks to give educators a tool for recognizing the shortcomings in their efforts to educate Black girls. It poses many questions as food for thought. It also offers solutions and suggestions for school administrators and teachers, including basing lessons and protocols in a concept called SETCLAE: “self-esteem through culture leads to academic excellence.”

Kunjufu’s book also suggests single-gender classes where appropriate; replacing all out-of-school suspensions with in-school suspensions based on empowerment lessons; more accurate and multicultural history lessons; and looping students with effective and relatable teachers. (Looping allows students and teachers to remain together across years or subject levels).

The book is just over 126 pages and is currently available via African American Images (http://africanamericanimages.com/AAI/New%20Releases.htm). It will become available on Amazon next year. The book’s parental counterpart, Raising Black Girls, is slated for later this year.

“At the collegiate level, Black girls do so well. People think this means there shouldn’t be a problem at the K through 12 level,” Kunjufu says. “But the K through 12 experience does not give Black girls the leverage to do well in college or life.”

Harlem Street Renamed After Literary Icon James Baldwin

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By Roberto Alejandro
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper


The Harlem high school James Baldwin attended now sits at 22 East James Baldwin Place after a section of 128th Street in New York City was renamed in honor of the literary icon.

The renaming ceremony took place outside of Harlem Renaissance High School, between 5th and Madison avenues on East 128 St., on Aug. 2—what would have been Baldwin’s 90th birthday. Baldwin died in December 1987 at the age of 63.

In attendance were members of Baldwin’s extended family, including his four surviving sisters, and the day’s events began at the historic Apollo Theater, which lit up its marquee in Baldwin’s honor.

Trevor Baldwin, a nephew of James and himself a writer, initiated the effort to have a street named after his uncle in 2012.

“[The renaming effort] was actually inspired by someone else who reminded me there’s no landmarks in Harlem with his name on it,” Trevor Baldwin told the AFRO. “So it was long overdue. I think his life work is more relevant today than ever before so it’s good because we get to revitalize his name and his message in terms of relating to contemporary, current events.”

Baldwin’s sister, Paula Whaley, a Baltimore-based sculptor and artist, said seeing her brother honored in this way was surreal.

“He would totally be in awe of all of this,” said Whaley.

In addition to family, the event was attended by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; CEO of the National Black Theatre Sade Lythcott; and poet, activist, and scholar Sonia Sanchez, among others.

Sanchez told the story of finding out Baldwin had died while she was in Trinidad. She said that when she heard, she proceeded to go outside, but was warned it was too dangerous at night.

“I said I have to go outside because I have to talk to brother Jimmy,” said Sanchez. “I have to tell him because of him, I am. Because of his work, he made me become the person that I am today.”

The only blemish on the event was the fact that the city failed to have the official street sign prepared and installed in time, forcing event organizers to show the crowd a large replica of the monument that will soon read “James Baldwin Place.”

HIV/AIDS: What Educators Should Know

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By Tiffany A. Chenneville & Howard M. Knoff, Ph.D.
University of South Florida
Special to the NNPA from The Westside Gazette

Introduction


Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is not only a health crisis, but a social crisis that has affected every sector of the United States. The number of persons with AIDS in the United States is staggering, and it continues to multiply. Furthermore, the growing number of individuals infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS, is even more disturbing. Nobody is immune because AIDS does not discriminate by sexual orientation, gender, race, socioeconomic status or age.

The failure of AIDS to discriminate by age is evident by the growing number of children and adolescents infected by HIV/AIDS. There also are scores of children who are not infected, yet are affected by HIV/AIDS because one or both of their parents, or other family members, have been diagnosed as being HIV positive or having AIDS. In fact, an increasingly large number of children have been orphaned by parents who have died from AIDS. It is estimated that over 80,000 children will have been orphaned by the year 2000 due to parental deaths caused by AIDS. Non-infected children and adolescents also may be affected through their association with peers or significant others who are HIV positive, have AIDS, or who have lost loved ones due to AIDS.

HIV/AIDS in Children and Young Adults: As of June, 1996, over a half a million (548,102) diagnosed AIDS cases had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control. Approximately 1.3 percent (or 7,296) were children less than 13-years-old. This is a significant increase from the 3,898 pediatric AIDS cases reported just three years before in 1992. Relative to adolescents, the incidence of AIDS also is considered to be large and increasing. In fact, AIDS is considered to be one of the leading causes of death among teenagers, and it is estimated that two individuals under the age of 25 are infected with HIV every hour.

AIDS is also the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 25 to 44 in the United States. This is significant because it is believed that many of the young adults currently infected with HIV/AIDS may have contracted the HIV virus during adolescence. Thus, adolescent incidence figures may underestimate those who contract HIV but do not exhibit its symptoms until early adolescence.

Relative to gender, HIV is being contracted more rapidly by women, including young girls and adolescents, than by men. Critically, the large and increasing number of females with AIDS also increases the probability of children being born with HIV due to prenatal or perinatal transmission. It is estimated that 25 percent of infants born to HIV-infected mothers will themselves become infected. These children represent one of the fastest growing groups testing positive for the HIV virus.

Definitions:

HIV – Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the virus that causes AIDS.


AIDS – Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, the condition that results from HIV infection. AIDS is distinguished from HIV by the presence of an opportunistic infection or a T-cell count of 200 or less.

What We Know About HIV/AIDS

Transmission:


HIV is transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and in some cases, breast milk. This allows for many possible modes of transmission including the following:

Sexual contact (vaginal, anal, oral) with an HIV-infected person

Sharing needles or syringes with someone who is HIV positive

Mother to child transmission during pregnancy, during delivery, or in some cases, through breast feeding

Blood transfusion with contaminated blood products, although the risk of HIV transmission through blood trans-fusions is minimal given current blood screening practices employed by blood banks.

It is critical to note that HIV is not transmitted through casual contact.

Prevention:

Abstinence from sexual activity Condom use during sexual activity (vaginal, anal, and oral) Not sharing needles or syringes. It is critical to note that condoms are not 100 percent effective but greatly reduce the risk of HIV trans-mission.

Facts about AIDS:

You cannot tell if someone has AIDS by looking at them.

Currently, there is no cure for AIDS.

Currently, there is no immunization to guard against the transmission of HIV.

AIDS affects people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic status, and individuals with different sexual orientations including heterosexuals, bisexuals, and homosexuals.

No cases of AIDS have been reported due to kissing, biting, or mosquito bites.

HIV is not transmitted through touching or hugging.

HIV cannot be contracted from donating blood.

There are no reported cases of HIV being transmitted from child to child or child to staff member in a school building due to fights or contact sports.

Impact of HIV/AIDS on Children and Adolescents


Many issues relative to academic and social development and functioning arise for children and adolescents with HIV or AIDS. In addition to the physical implications of HIV/AIDS, there are various neurological and psychosocial implications as discussed below.

Physical Implications: HIV infection suppresses the immune system making persons testing positive for HIV vulnerable to opportunistic infections and illnesses which include, but are not limited to, certain forms of cancer, pneumonia, and fungal infections.

Therefore, the physical symptoms experienced by persons with HIV or AIDS will vary according to their physical condition and the impact of these illnesses. HIV-infected individuals who have not been diagnosed with an opportunistic infection may also experience generalized symptoms associated with immune suppression such as fatigue, diarrhea, weight loss, fever, and night sweats. To date, there is no cure for AIDS; however, pharmacological therapy (e.g., anti-retroviral medications, protease inhibitors) is used to prolong the onset of symptoms.

AIDS is also the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 25 to 44 in the United States. This is significant because it is believed that many of the young adults currently infected with HIV/AIDS may have contracted the HIV virus during adolescence. Thus, adolescent incidence figures may underestimate those who contract HIV but do not exhibit its symptoms until early adolescence.

Relative to gender, HIV is being contracted more rapidly by women, including young girls and adolescents, than by men. Critically, the large and increasing number of females with AIDS also increases the probability of children being born with HIV due to prenatal or perinatal transmission. It is estimated that 25 percent of infants born to HIV-infected mothers will themselves become infected. These children represent one of the fastest growing groups testing positive for the HIV virus.

Neurological Implications: An estimated 75% to 90% of children infected with HIV experience neuropsychological deficits resulting from developmental delays and/or cognitive disabilities. It is known that HIV infection can interfere with the normal brain development of children, resulting in neurological damage. This is especially true for children infected through perinatal transmission, whose central nervous systems are not yet fully developed at the time of infection. Among other cognitive dysfunctions, visual and auditory short-term memory loss, attention deficits, language disorders, spatial ability problems and expressive and receptive language difficulties may be observed in pediatric AIDS cases. Furthermore, moderate to severe mental retardation is associated with certain neurological disorders caused by HIV.

While HIV-related neurological impairment in children is commonly associated with cognitive delays, neurological impairment in adolescents is more commonly associated with cognitive deterioration. Neurological damage commonly results in the death of children with AIDS Anti-retroviral medications, as well as medications which help to prevent serious opportunistic infections, are thought to be partially responsible for extending the life of HIV-infected individuals. However, the quality of life for such individuals can be negatively affected by subtle, progressive and insidious problems directly resulting from HIV infection, including neurological impairment. HIV infection and AIDS not only impact the immune system, but also the central nervous system. In fact, it is hypothesized that HIV may directly infect the brain. As such, neurological impairment may result from either a direct attack on the central nervous system or through opportunistic infections that the body cannot stop due to HIV or AIDS.

While HIV-related neurological impairment in children is commonly associated with cognitive delays, neurological impairment in adolescents is more commonly associated with cognitive deterioration. Neurological damage commonly results in the death of children with AIDS.

Social Implications: Many of the symptoms reported by children with AIDS are similar to those experienced by children living with other chronic illnesses. Such symptoms include loss of abilities, physical impairments and the fear of impending death. Each of these may result in psychological reactions, including anxiety and depression. However, the social experiences of HIV-infected children differ from those of children with other chronic illnesses in several ways. First, many HIV-infected children, especially those who contract the virus perinatally, may have to cope with losses associated with AIDS-related illnesses and deaths within their families. Second, HIV-infected children are likely to experience additional risk factors: chronic poverty, housing problems, nutritional problems, poor access to medical and social support services, and exposure to violent or dangerous neighborhood environments. Third, and most important, is the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. AIDS-related stigma is the result of both fear and discrimination. Attempts have been made to deny rights to individuals infected with HIV/AIDS, including the right to employment and the right to a free and appropriate education. Although federal and legal mandates attempt to protect the constitutional rights of people with AIDS, stigmatization and discrimination persist.

What Can I Do as a Teacher?

Teachers have a responsibility to educate themselves about HIV/AIDS. Teachers must be knowledgeable about the modes of transmission and the modes of prevention if they are to educate their students about how to protect themselves. Also, knowledge about transmission and prevention is necessary to calm their own, students’, and parents’ concerns about children with HIV or AIDS who are being educated in a regular classroom setting. Teachers can educate themselves by taking courses offered by the American Red Cross (see the Resource section below for an 800 number) or other local community agencies.

It is a well-documented fact that children model adults’, including teachers’, behavior. Therefore, it is important that teachers model appropriate behavior that emphasizes problem solving and informed decision-making. It also is critical that teachers model behaviors that discourage discrimination and prejudice against persons with HIV/AIDS. This type of modeling by teachers not only impacts students in their own classrooms, but also the school buildings in which they work.

Teachers should be aware of the relationship between alcohol/drug use and HIV/AIDS. Alcohol and drug use are considered risk factors for the transmission of HIV because: (a) it is a known fact that alcohol and drug decrease inhibition, thus increasing the likelihood that individuals will engage in high risk behavior such as unprotected sex; and (b) intravenous drug use is known to be a high risk behavior that may result in HIV transmission. There are also many other negative consequences of alcohol/drug use not associated with HIV/AIDS. Therefore, it is important that teachers educate their students about risks associated with alcohol/drug use and attempt to promote abstinence from such substances.

Teachers should not be fearful if there is a student with HIV/AIDS in their classroom. There are no documented cases of AIDS transmission due to casual contact, biting, fighting, or contact sports.

It is important to respect students’ and parents’ right to privacy. Teachers should be aware of and abide by confidentiality/disclosure laws and policies within their school building and district.

Universal precautions should be maintained when coming into contact with blood or other bodily fluids that may contain blood. Universal precautions refer to the use of gloves and disinfectants when in contact with blood or blood-contaminated products.

In response to the growing number of school-age children and adolescents infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, schools have been forced to address important issues relative to this disease. The presence of students with HIV/AIDS in the schools has created a controversy for some relative to social, legal, and moral issues. In fact, there have been, and continue to be, debates about the appropriateness of HIV-infected students being educated within regular classrooms. The impact of HIV/AIDS on schools is evident also by debates that continue about what information should be included in HIV/AIDS curricula, and whether such curricula should exist at all.

As previously discussed, students with HIV or AIDS present various physical, neurological, and psychosocial problems. In order to intervene, school-based health (including mental health) services must be provided to children, adolescents, and their families. In fact, schools are continually recognizing the impact of health issues on academic functioning, and subsequently, the need for models of health care delivery to be incorporated into educational systems. Schools must work to create academic and social environments that address not only the needs of students with HIV or AIDS, but also the needs of those affected by the AIDS crisis – including peers, teachers, and administrators. Indeed, all members of the school community potentially are affected by this disease, and programs need to be designed to confront this reality. Such programs, ideally, should incorporate the goals of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. This type of approach can proactively address the needs of all school members through education and service provision.

Applied here, tertiary prevention focuses on the development of programs and interventions for those already infected and those directly impacted by HIV/AIDS. Secondary prevention targets those groups who are at-risk for contracting HIV, or those groups who will be affected socially, emotionally, financially, or otherwise due to their interactions with an HIV/AIDS infected individual. Finally, primary prevention involves community-wide.

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